Norwegian Winter And Its Grid Are Powering Down The Tesla Model S

JAN 20 2014 BY JAY COLE 28

The Tesla Model S Has Some Trouble Adapting To The Winter (and the power grid) In Norway!

The Tesla Model S Has Some Trouble Adapting To The Winter (and the power grid) In Norway!

Last week it got cold in Norway for the first time this year, really cold.

And for some Tesla Model S owners looking to go to work last Monday, they found that their new Model S sedans, in conjunction with the Tesla provided portable UMC (universal mobile connector), are having some trouble getting a charge.

Green Lights Good!

Green Lights Good!

The problem was first noted by a few owners in December, but this latest cold snap seems to have expanded the issue to a much wider base.  Tesla acknowledge the problem and made a statement over the weekend:

 “We’re trying hard to resolve this,” Peter Bardenfleth-Hansen, Tesla’s sales chief for the Nordic and Benelux countries and the UK, told Dagens Næringsliv. “We’re sorry, and don’t like how Norwegian customers are suffering.”

The root of the problem seems to be that the UMC doesn’t hold the charge connection in cold weather.  It seems that the Tesla supplied equipment can’t deal with the deadly combination of Norwegian power grid and very cold temperatures.

Reportedly Tesla had been replacing these faulty devices for new ones for those who have been having issues – although that has not yet solved the problem, as some Model S owners have said they have gone through 3 or 4 units.

Tesla engineers has contacted some affected customers with the problem, and have told them they are working on a solution to stabilize the charging connection, including perhaps sourcing equipment from a new supplier.

Tesla Sells This UMC Kit Online In The US For $1,500

Tesla Sells This UMC Kit Online In The US For The Roadster For $1,500 (via Tesla Motors)

A Tesla spokesman, Esben Pedersen, told Dagens Næringsliv the system is “too sensitive” for the Norwegian grid.

“We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with the Norwegian network,” Mr. Pedersen said, but noted it was a “challenge” because it’s “different” than other countries. 

Tesla is now in the process of putting out new software programming to customers for use when recharging.

Separately, owners of 3rd party equipment have not reporting any issues as of yet in connection with the cold weather or the electrical grid in Norway.

Almost two thirds of all international sales for Tesla have come in Norway, with just under 2,000 sold there in 2013. via VG.Nett

Categories: Tesla


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28 Comments on "Norwegian Winter And Its Grid Are Powering Down The Tesla Model S"

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The Grid in Norway is 99.9% renewable (hydro)… not sure how that changes the grid though…


Please explain “cant hold the charge connection”. Is that mechanical or electrical?

Nothing wrong with Tesla, just charging electronics is incompatible. Things happen and Tesla is learning.

I trust you and Jay like Tesla, but still it’s a bit of a stretch to claim there’s nothing wrong when even Tesla’s sales chief says “We’re trying hard to resolve this”.

That the EVSE bundled with cars sold in Norway happens to be incompatible with either the car, the local grid and/or climate, whereas equipment sold by other vendors works fine, is a bit of a problem indeed I’d think…

Right …and instead of fueling a litigious blame-game,Tesla is fixing “a” problem…see how that works.

We need some details here. Are these Mennekes connectorized vehicles? Is the attempted charging 2 wire plus earth 220volt or 4 wire plus earth 400? Assuming the former if it is being used with a UMC, then I need more info. The latter may be a phase imballance.

In any event, I’m not surprised, seeing as it doesn’t seem Tesla tests things adequately; athough the type of failure may turn out to be one to me.

These kind of things are expected with new technology. And especially when it comes from a start up companies first mass produced vehicle.

It’s really how they address it and solve it and then add the changes that they should be judged by.

How they address the problem? Blaming the country’s electrical system instead of calling their own products ricketty is not a good start.

Tesla’s pattern is to blame something else first, then they make a change, saying they did it because something else is at fault. So then why didn’t they make it that way in the first place? Doesn’t wash with me.

Charging car batteries isn’t rocket science. Its strictly a first quadrant operation.

Good thing they don’t design passenger elevators. Those are at minimum 2 or 4 quadrant operations, plus people can get crushed if the design is flawed.

LOL, what company calls their own products rickety ?

Tesla’s pattern is to design for standard use and when unique circumstances require unique solutions to address them then.

I suppose Tesla could have withheld releasing the Model S for 5-10 years while trying to engineer a solution to every conceivable problem a customer could face in every market on the globe.

It really matters less how it washes with Bill Howland but with the 40k or so persons that are getting ready to purchase a Model S this year particularly the 5000 or so Norwegians getting ready to purchase this year.

See my response to GSP below. In the final analysis, you are absolutely correct. It doesn’t matter in the slightest what I think, other than the tiny few who value my perspective. But there are other people’s opinions who do matter, hehe.

I looked into the problem a bit more and it’s not a small problem and already handled badly. I’ll take back my comment “It’s really how they address it and solve it and then add the changes that they should be judged by” since they have already addressed it poorly.

I guess I was a bit blinded by Tesla there for a moment 😛

Lots of details here:

It sounds like there are no issues charging the Model S with European 3-phase ESVEs, even on Norway’s unique power grids. However, Tesla’s portable UMC is having trouble when cold, or when grid voltage drops. Users either cannot start charging or charging stops early.

This is only with the special UMC made for Norway’s Isolated Terra (IT) and Terra Neutral (TN) 240 V and 400 V 3-phase networks. No trouble reported for the different 3-phase portable UMC used in the rest of Europe.


From your link it appears Tesla is getting Roasted in the Norwegian Press. Seeing as people using European wall charger docks report no problems, you would have thought Tesla would have refunded $500 toward purchase of a home-european-grown charger dock and forget trying to make their UMC work since the European Solution to date is the only foolproof method. One of the posts on your link given says Norwegians’ patience is wearing thin, and Tesla better do something otherwise there will be some sort of class action taken.

This really doesn’t surprise me at all, sorry to say. Tesla just has electricals that are too ricketty for the job, in my opinion, but never accepts accountability and always blames someone else. Rather immature if you ask me.

These type of issues are not the purview of Tesla alone. Cars are simply more complicated by design and rely on a global network of engineers and suppliers. It took BMW over a year to resolve an engine engineering fault with my brand new R56 MINI Cooper S. The failing part requiring two redesigns before the problem went away.

If one does not have the stomach for these things, maybe a luddite-friendly vehicle is your only option. If you can find one these days.

“Tesla just has electricals that are too ricketty for the job”
I think GSP’s point is an exact rebuttal against that (and also your claim that they are simply blaming something else). He’s saying the European UMC (NOT the wall chargers) are working fine (aka not “ricketty”).

That means it’s isolated unique issues with the Norway UMC. Since you seem to have a handle on electricity, Norway’s older homes have an electrical system that has no earth connection (called isolated terra). Tesla’s UMC is designed to support this kind of system, and it’s more challenging.

Yeah, I fail to see why a non-earthed neutral would make any difference. High voltage systems in EV’s are specifically supposed to be isolated from the car frame, for safety reasons world wide. They didn’t have any trouble in Norway until it got cold, (although one post said that in a heated garage, the tesla would fail 1 out of 4 times. then 1 out of 3. -The blogger made the obvious point that a heated garage is the IDEAL atmosphere to charge a car in and if the Tesla system is unstable in a warm garage, what more could be expected?

I’m just giving my opinion, and I’ve already settled on too many Tesla electricals are very marginal. As I’ve stated down below, it doesn’t matter what I think really (I just comment since a tiny few here want my perspective), but there are many Norwegians now whose opinion will matter, and apparently Tesla has had emergency meetings about it. So It appears Tesla is ‘caring’, regardless of what their public statements are.

Another Canadian on the blog said he was one of the few who purchased a Model S, and “He felt very alone”, until the Norwegian problems started happening.

I assume, reading between the lines, that he means prior to this he was fearful of going against the hyped polemic but now feels kinship with the Norwegians. Others have said it seems that (unbelievably), the Majority of Norwegians are having a problem. Since I don’t live there, I have to read these blogs to get a ‘feel’ for the size of the problem. It does NOT seem trivial.

Tesla S Charge problem in 3-phase 32 A 400 systems is in nordic countries. We have car in Finland where temperature is under -20C. Tesla own 16A 3-Phase 400V charge works ok from industrial socket but the problem is that mode 3 type 2 – 32 A 3-phase charge is started too quickly and refused by car. Cars power strength detection invalid (bug).
This problem come up after Tesla made fix in 5.8.4 to protect unwanted power issues by decrease voltage 25% id odd power status. I was told today that on this week 5.8.6 is coming to all Nordic cars over air. it solves the case.

Regarding any possible luddite response, I anticipated trouble with the roadster and came up with my own charging solution. I was told by Tesla Personnel at the time I was the first person they knew of that took care of 220 volt charging this way.

A friend who also has a roadster went with the UMC. He’s burned out his first 2 models and is not using his third, preferring to order Tesla’s (Clipper Creek’s actually) HPC instead, which, does work fine. When he was having trouble with Tesla’s own HPWC for the S, he got a converter cable for the clipper creek, since at that point in time it was the only trouble-free charging product at 220 volts by Tesla available in the U.S.

Personally, I don’t know why Tesla suggests that people use the UMC as their primary at-home charging method. The melting adapters in USA and these Norwegian problems could have been avoided if they just recommended that people install industry standard residential charging stations at home. For example, a standard J1772 30A or 40A EVSE and the J1772 adapter would be much more trouble-free than the UMC in USA and a standard Mennekes wallbox (16A x3) is working well without problems in Norway. IMHO, the UMC should be kept in the car for “portable” charging.

The UMC has worked extremely well in the US and also completely fine outside Norway. Eventually Tesla will fix the Norway ones too.

In terms of EV adoption, saying that everyone needs a couple thousand dollar EVSE instead of the included adapter is not going to be very convincing for the mainstream market. I actually do like Tesla’s approach.

Not ‘completely fine’. See Neil’s comment below for instance.

I am living in Quebec, Canada and I had also problem. My HPWC is aking for 335Km and I cannot exceed 315Km of charge limit. The outside weather was -27C during the last night. My Mobile connector gives intermittent no charge and I cannot use it in my garage where I put a 30A .( It is not very safe for travelling ). I have to connect outside where my HPWC is wall installed. The service center will send me a new Mobile connector free of charge by mail. I agree with MotoEV but we are right to ask for answers from Tesla Motors.

I agree but trust me it may not result in candid answers from the manufacturer. I still have war wounds from my battles with BMW customer care. In temperatures like yours, I can imagine one’s patience running thin.

BTW Quebec is a very beautiful and I visit often in the winter

Sounds like a slight robustness issue in the decision making to stop charging, maybe because of some unexpected phase shift on the power grid.
Stuff like this can happen I suppose. Relatively minor and sounds like they’ll fix it fast.

We’ll see. The solution this time may not be as easy as a $10 mailable connector, in fact, Tesla stores have been mailing replacement UMC’s right and left (some people on their 3rd or 4th units), but people report no improvement.

“Unexpected Phase Shift”??? I’d think all of Norway’s 3 phase power would be pretty much 120 degrees out of phase with respect to any other neighboring phase, pretty much all the time. Unless the stator coils of the generators are made of Silly Putty.

As far as any phase shift on the lines from the generator to the house, I’d assume the relatively balanced loads required would tend to keep the shift from phase to phase at a constant 120 degrees.

Besides, the UMC’s themselves, whether in Norway or not, seems to dislike cool or cold weather.

Since the superchargers are all banks of 9 or 12 single phase units balanced on 3 phase supplies, the individual chargers don’t know what is going on with the other phases and could care less. If the same philosophy is used with the Mennekes vechicle chargers, then the same principle applies.

I would inform you that in Norway the earthing system normally used is IT (Isolated Terra). We do not have any neutral, only 3 phases and protective ground. Most of the European countries are using TN (Terra Neutral) with 3 phases and neutral plus protective ground.

In Norway the voltage between the three phases are 240V and 127V related to ground.
In rest of Europe except for Albania and Norway, the Voltage is 240V between the phases and Neutral and 400V between the phases.

Therefore, 400V is normally not available in Norway. High power equipment like owns and washing machines made for the European market could not be used in Norway. In some cases, you could reconnect for 1 phase 240V which is the only option in Norway.

400V is available for large consumers like industry, but also houses build in new areas might have 400V.

When you drive from Norway to Sweden, I have noticed that in Norway there are three power cables in the masts. In Sweden, there are four power cables.